This chapter is designed for the comfort and encouragement of those that fear God and keep his commandments, even when they walk in darkness and have no light. Whether it was intended primarily for the support of the captives in Babylon is not certain, probably it was; but comforts thus generally expressed ought not to be so confined. Whenever the church of God is in distress her friends and well–wishers may comfort themselves and one another with these words, I. That God, who raised his church at first out of nothing, will take care that it shall not perish, Isa. 51:1-3. II. That the righteousness and salvation he designs for his church are sure and near, very near and very sure, Isa. 51:4-6. III. That the persecutors of the church are weak and dying creatures, Isa. 51:7, 8. IV. That the same power which did wonders for the church formerly is now engaged and employed for her protection and deliverance, Isa. 51:9-11. V. That God himself, the Maker of the world, had undertaken both to deliver his people out of their distress and to comfort them under it, and sent his prophet to assure them of it, Isa. 51:12-16. VI. That, deplorable as the condition of the church now was (Isa. 51:17-20), to the same woeful circumstances her persecutors and oppressors should shortly be reduced, and worse, Isa. 51:21-23. The first three paragraphs of this chapter begin with, “Hearken unto me,” and they are God’s people that are all along called to hearken; for even when comforts are spoken to them sometimes they “hearken not, through anguish of spirit” (Exod. 6:9); therefore they are again and again called to hearken, Isa. 51:1, 4, 7. The two other paragraphs of this chapter begin with “Awake, awake;” in the former (Isa. 51:9) God’s people call upon him to awake and help them; in the latter, Isa. 51:17. God calls upon them to awake and help themselves.
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